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Mani writes:

>At http://tulip.ee.ndsu.nodak.edu/~rkk/text/softwarelib.html, I found some
>description of IIT-Madras software library that handles Tamil characters
>with 16 bit encoding!
>Some excerpts from the page:
>The issue relating to the choice of character codes was resolved early. The
>character coding used in the IITM system is a wide code consisting of 16
>bits uniformly for all the characters. There are major advantages to this
>choice though one might question the wisdom of this arbitrary scheme when
>other world standards have come to stay. The main argument in favour of this
>approach is that it
>avoids the need for a state machine at the level of the application, either
>during data entry or while displaying or printing the characters. It can be
>a real challenge to write language or character-set dependent state machines
>within application programs. The IIT Madras system relieves the programmer
>of this difficult, if not impossible, job.
>Another important aspect of the system is the flexibility provided in
>specifying the shapes of the characters. The library of functions is based
>on the principle of one character, one code as opposed to multibyte
>represenations used while forming characters using glyphs or ligatures. The
>16 bit representation chosen here not only identifies the character set but
>also points to the rule(s) to be followed in
>generating the character. These rules can be changed dynamically allowing
>different representations for the same character. Above everything, the
>rules can be specified by the user in a flexible way. This is what brings
>power to the system by allowing scaling, transformations and the application
>of brush patterns while drawing the characters, all on the fly.
>Going by the principle "encode the rules for drawing the characters into the
>software", one totally avoids the use of fonts, and thereby all the
>complications in dealing with them. This was specifically emphasized during
>the inital design of the system when it was found that most of the fonts in
>use were proprietary (certainly for Indian languages) and users could not
>simply take a font and use the same
>in their applications.
>The IIT Madras system has an excellent graphics editor for designing
>character shapes though it is not part of the API or the library. Users can
>design their own character shapes and incorporate them into the system.
Is it my imagination, or is this an attempt to set up a new system quite
unrelated to Unicode, Windows, the Mac, TrueType or Postscript fonts?  If
so, then no matter how good their system, it won't fly.  George Hart


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